Date: 9/13/17 12:44 pm
From: Tim Freiday <tim.freiday777...>
Subject: [de-birds] Middle Run Bird Tuesday Bird Walk - 9/12/17 Results
Hello Fellow DE Birders,

Yesterday’s Tuesday morning bird walk was another excellent birding adventure. 23 observers tallied 56 species in roughly 4 hours of effort. I began the pre-walk with a disclaimer that there may not be many birds around, on account of the past few days of strong migratory conditions. I need to say these disclaimers every walk because we almost immediately came into a flock of birds after that. We walked straight to the pair of girdled Bradford Pears and were treated to a few showy birds in the trees, drying off and flycatching for breakfast. There were Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts and a male Wilson’s Warbler. There was also a nice looking Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. This must be a good year for YBFL, because there have been a lot at Middle Run this season. We continued birding the area, and had a surpising flyover species when a Little Blue Heron juvenile flew by headed NW. We saw a Nashville Warbler briefly, barely long enough for an ID.

I left the group of pre-walk participants at the Pair of Pears to meet up with the main contingent over at the parking area. While we were signing in, we noticed that a flock of birds was working the edge of the hedge right behind the Pair of Pears. It ended up containing probably the same male Wilson’s Warbler, and some other nice warblers. I have noticed that the mixed flocks that use the Pair of Pears often work the back edge of the hedge right behind the trees after they leave the pears. This was evident last week with the Lawrence’s backcross that showed itself briefly at the back side after it left the trees. By the time I took the main contingent of the walk to the Pair of Pears to meet up with the pre-walk participants, the birds had vacated those trees, presumably to move along the hedge to find more woods.

We worked the top area, and picked up a western race of Palm Warbler, my first of season for Delaware. For the first time in a couple of weeks, American Redstarts were not the most numerous warbler at Middle Run. Magnolia Warblers were the most abundant warbler on yesterday’s walk. These observations point to a shifting composition of migrant passerines. The first half of September is dominated by Redstarts, and the composition shifts to more Magnolia and Black-throated Green Warblers, finishing up with massive amounts of Yellow-rumped Warblers (which happens to be the most numerous passerine species in North America, estimated population of over 100 million individuals). I expect the first of the Yellow-rumps to show up soon.

We went back to the Pair of Pears about 20 minutes after we left them, and they were hopping with activity again when we got back to them. We were treated to an impressive number of Magnolia Warblers and others, and a spectacular pair of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers which put on a show for all to see. Kathy Barrowclough got some nice pictures of these birds, which are embedded in the eBird checklist. After about ten minutes of action, the Pair of Pears quieted again, and we headed a short distance to the Tree of Heaven area. We had some nice looks at Cedar Waxwings, but we were all blown away by the appearance of a stunning red and yellow adult male Scarlet Tanager molting into non-breeding plumage. This bird perched up obligingly, allowing scope views and pictures.

We began to walk around the birding trail, and stopped near Trail Marker 6 to whistle for an Eastern Screech Owl who has been very responsive in this area. In addition to hearing the Screech Owl here, we swept the mimids with Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, and Gray Catbirds seen along with a female type Wilson’s Warbler. We got to the opening just past Trail Marker 6, and stopped here for a little while. I cleared a viewshed here which allows observers to check the Pair of Pears and the Tree of Heaven before heading into the woods. We watched in the scope as the trees blew up with activity once again, with many species including a nice male Black-throated Green Warbler, and a couple of Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers. I asked the group to vote whether to head into woods as planned or to go back to the trees to get a closer look at the action. Roughly 75% of the group voted to head back there, so we did.

By the time we got back to the Pair of Pears the activity was all but finished, with just a couple of Redstarts and Magnolia Warblers remaining. This shows an interesting facet of these Bradford Pears; that groups of birds use them together and then leave them together. This means that at one point in the morning they can be full of birds, and then a short time later they could be empty. If you are birding Middle Run, you should check these trees a few times. They get used by migrant passerines off and on from sunrise to about 10 AM. Bring some popcorn or coffee and a bagel to enjoy the show. There is a bench here, and the warbler show is better than any movie if you ask me. For those who don’t know where these trees are, paste these coordinates into Google Maps and you will see them:

39.714622, -75.723769

We left the pears and began to walk the Birding Trail backwards. It was surprisingly slow around the trail, but it was about 10 AM at this point. Many people broke off from the group to head home, and a portion continued around the trail to wrap up at the tally rally by the Pair of Pears again. Although the trees were quiet by this point, we did have a migrating Merlin, and 6 Common Nighthawks flying around. Complete checklist for the official bird walk here:

After the walk, Alison Ellicott, Joe Swartenski and I decided to check the Secret Thrush Spot. This area is off of the Lenape Spur at Middle Run, and is a bit out of the way for the bird walks themselves. It is an area by the creek that has some really nice understory, with many rotting logs as well. Migrating thrushes tend to congregate there. Although it had been pretty lackluster up to this point in the season, yesterday was a nice day there. We had great looks at Wood Thrush, Veery, and Swainson’s Thrush. We also added Canada Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Warbling Vireo by the stream. Complete checklist for this excursion here:

If you would like to check out the thrush spot, follow these directions to get here. From the main parking lot at Middle Run, head down the path with the dirt jumps near to the bottom hill, or follow the power lines cut to the bottom of the hill and make a left. There is a wooden bridge with one railing across the stream, so cross here and then take the left hand fork of the trail. There will be another left turn off the trail shortly thereafter (first one you come to), take that left. Shortly after that the trail forks again, and again take the left fork down the hill to the stream. This is the thrush spot, there are a couple of old benches and an old stair case nearby. Please be respectful and stay on the trail in this area, as there are many sensitive native species of plants in the understory. The coordinates for the thrush spot are here, paste them into Google Maps to see the area on a map:

39.716368, -75.721100

There will be another Tuesday Morning Bird Walk at Middle Run next week. These walks are free and open to the public, sponsored by New Castle County Parks and led by Delaware Nature Society Staff. Join us for some excellent birding in one of the premier passerine hotspots in Delaware!

Happy Birding,
Tim Freiday
Middle Run Project Coordinator

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